One in Messiah Congregation

I report, you decide


Sabbath-Sunday Bill Survey Shows Support

9 Sivan 5767, May 26, '07

Published: 05/25/07, 12:55 PM
by Hillel Fendel

( MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP) has announced the findings of a poll showing 56% support amongst Israelis for his proposed legislation making Sunday a day of rest and allowing some public transportation and entertainment on the Sabbath.

Orlev's bill would change the official approach to Sabbath as the country's day of rest. Though businesses and government offices would continue to be closed, places of entertainment would be permitted to open - and public transportation, now banned in most cities on the Sabbath, would be available. The bill stipulates that such transportation and entertainment would be carried out with maximum sensitivity to the religious public.

A survey commissioned by Orlev finds that 56% of the public support his initiative, while 30% object. The poll was carried out by Brain Base (Maagar Mochot) Institute, headed by Prof. Yitzchak Katz.

Orlev's bill, which he proposed last week, also calls for a second day of rest during the week - Sunday - during which businesses and offices would be closed. This would enable Sabbath-observant families to spend more time together, Orlev explains. Work hours lost to Sunday would be made up largely by increasing the workday on Mondays through Fridays from 8 to 9 hours.

The survey divides the respondents into religious categories, such as secular, hareidi-religious, etc. However, it lumps together the religious-Zionist public with those who consider themselves "traditional," i.e., minimally observant. The poll finds that 64% of this joint "sector" supports the new bill.

The two groups were combined in the poll, despite the expectation that the two would not have similar views of the issue. Other findings of the poll show, in fact, that support for the bill increases as level of religious observance decreases. For instance, 64% of the secular public supports the bill, compared to only 6% of the hareidi-religious public.

Asked to explain, Orlev's spokesman Moshe Inbar told Arutz-7 that the breakdown was determined by the pollster, "in consultation with me." Inbar said that lumping the two sectors together is in keeping with the NRP's new policy of "opening its gates" to the traditional community.

Arutz-7: "But information is missing from the poll, in that we do not know how many of the mainstream NRP voters - the religious-Zionist public - supports this bill."

In response, Inbar first suggested that "you can commission your own poll," but then added, "You can extrapolate from the other findings..."

Orlev said his bill was formulated with the help of leading religious-Zionist rabbis, and does not openly permit activities that are forbidden by the Torah, "but rather does not mention them."

MK Yitzchak Levy of the National Union party said the bill paves the way for further deterioration in the character of the Sabbath in the State of Israel. The National Union and the NRP joined forces for the last national election, merging into one electoral list.


The New Sabbath According to Orlev

9 Sivan 5767, May 26, '07

Published: 05/14/07, 9:45 AM

by Hana Levi Julian

( Knesset Member Zevulun Orlev is stepping onto a tightrope by proposing two new laws that could change the face of Israeli society.

The pair of bills written by the National Union/ National Religious Party Chairman are also likely to reawaken the age-old debate over Israeli laws pertaining to the Sabbath.

One bill would change the length of the traditional Israeli weekend; the second would change its character. If passed, they will also change the way Sabbath is traditionally observed in Israeli society, both in the religious and secular populations.

One of the bills would end the practice of beginning the regular work week on Sundays. Instead, the weekend break which traditionally begins on Friday afternoon would not end until Monday morning.

Industry and trade will, if the law passes, no longer be completely forbidden on the Sabbath, nor would public or state services, as they are at present. This would allow an increase in recreational and cultural activities, provided they would comply with noise regulations.

The main purpose for the change, said MK Orlev, is to allow Sabbath-observant Jews to have a day to travel and enjoy cultural and recreational activities as a family. Due to the six-day work week, this currently causes hardship for the religious population. A worker must use a paid (or unpaid) vacation day and a student must skip school in order for the family to “take the day off” together.

The second proposal would change the public transportation system.

If passed, the new law would allow limited public transportation to become available on the Sabbath. At present public transportation is permitted only six days a week – Sunday through Friday.

The new Sabbath lines would be serviced by vans similar to the private “sheirut” or mini-buses run by private companies along the regular public bus routes. None would be allowed to travel through religious communities or neighborhoods.

MK Orlev also recommended establishing a committee to oversee the development of Sabbath services under his proposals.

According to the Jerusalem Post, a number of “senior religious Zionist rabbis and senior members of the Knesset” are supporting the proposals; however, MK Orlev could not be reached to confirm the claim.

Both bills are expected to face an initial Knesset hearing in the near future.

Reactions from Sabbath-observant Knesset members were not long in coming, however.

Minister Eli Yishai, Chairman of the Sephardic religious Shas party, slammed the proposals and the NU / NRP parties, saying, "Any initiative by parties calling themselves religious and turning reform on Shabbat (Sabbath) matters should be foiled."

Meretz Knesset Member Zahav Gal-On had a different take on MK Orlev's motivation for proposing the measures, saying it was a red herring. "As long as the religious-rabbinical establishment dictates how we should marry, divorce and what we should eat," she declared, "all these proposals are insignificant."


Pray for Israel

[Click Here to Print]